The Color Fred - Bend to Break (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Color Fred

Bend to Break (2007)

Equal Vision

The Color Fred was a project started up on the side by Taking Back Sunday guitarist/backup vocalist Fred Mascherino some time ago. Disagreements in songwriting eventually led him to split from TBS; as he told

After 'Louder Now,' I think the band was headed somewhere I didn't want to go, musically. ['Louder Now'] was a rock album, and there were some songs that I had written that were more pop than anyone else wanted to go.
Now the Color Fred is Mascherino's full-time outfit, and, at least as far as the remaining fans of Taking Back Sunday go, we ask whether or not it stacks up at all to the two albums he helped write with TBS: 2004's Where You Want to Be and 2006's aforementioned Louder Now. So, does it?

Nah, hardly.

Maybe Bend to Break isn't necessarily so, but it sounds precisely like what the above quote hints at: Taking Back Sunday reject songs with overly poppy tendencies.

Mascherino found a bit of critical and musical success with his pre-TBS band, Breaking Pangaea, an act that developed a bit of a cult following prior to announcing its hiatus in the summer of 2003. Instead of the Color Fred capturing Panagaea's occasional brilliance, Mascherino opts to forget much of his early days and write sprightly yet remedial pop-rock songs offering little enjoyability and even less lasting value.

There's nothing inherently wrong with the performance and arrangement of the songs on Bend to Break. Additionally, producer Lou Giordano twisted his knobs all right, punctuating -- when needed -- all of the album's more rock and pop moments. But as soon as the listener hears opener "Get Out," they'll get an accurate preview of what they're in for and, while hardly being disgusted, will likely have little motivation to continue. "Get Out" transitions to its chorus entirely too abruptly, where Mascherino repeatedly chants "get out get out, you're not drivin'"; it brings up dreaded memories of the over-the-top repetition of Where You Want to Be, which practically made the Promise Ring's Nothing Feels Good sound like a Mr. Bungle disc. It's not like Fred Mascherino is an atrocious songwriter -- the guy knows how to pen a hook. Unfortunately, he sometimes tends to blindly stab you with that hook until your pulse begins to slow.

If nothing else, major props to Mascherino for the 100% biodegradable tray and 80% recycled packaging otherwise in the digipak. It's a neat material that keeps the disc in place as well as any plastic tray.

Bend to Break is certainly a listenable album -- that much is true. But the cheese factor gets to be a bit too much at times and the songs are often void of any truly compelling qualities. If "Miami" was your jam for 2006 (and 2007 for that matter), dig in; everyone else, pass.

If I Surrender

Get Out
Hate to See You Go